You know, I don’t have faith in this madness of mine
And I say I don’t like someone who ruins me, in pieces
And God only knows about you
And I don’t deserve a broken kiss
Today’s nothing more than a day lost in time
And I’m far from all that I know
That’s not spoken of anymore
I know I’ll be for you what I don’t care to know
Today I’m nothing more than a shattered vessel in my chest
And I scream look at the broken kiss
Where must the queen be, lucidity hid her away…
— Interpretation —
In Portuguese, the phrase for “broken heart” is coração partido. In 1973, the recently heartbroken Toninho Horta, 24 at the time, composed the music for “Beijo Partido” — Broken Kiss. For two years, the song had no lyrics, until Toninho sat down at the piano one day in 1975 and quickly penned the heavyhearted verses.
The music showcases Toninho’s signature style of a simple melodic line backed by an exquisite, intricate harmony. The line “E Deus é quem sabe de ti” (translated as “God only knows about you”) – with its ascending melody and delicately descending harmony – captures this style, which captivated and influenced musicians around the world.
Nana Caymmi recorded “Beijo Partido” for her 1975 album Nana Caymmi; shortly thereafter, Milton Nascimento, a fellow Mineiro and member of the Clube da Esquina, recorded it on his album Minas. Toninho plays guitar and piano on Milton’s recording, and provides back-up vocals that he says were meant to “reinforce the mysterious atmosphere in the musical setting demanded by the arrangement.”
Toninho Horta was born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, on December 2, 1948. His father played guitar and his mother played guitar and mandolin. As a boy, he accompanied his older brother, the bass player Paulo Horta, to Belo Horizonte’s famed Ponto dos Músicos (Musicians’ Point), where the city’s most talented and dedicated musicians came together daily to talk about music and play. There, many of the members of Clube da Esquina met and began playing together. (Marilton Borges points out that today, “who’d have guessed it,” a church stands where the Musicians’ Point used to be, on Rua Alfonso Pena between Tupinambás and Curitiba.) Toninho went to Ponto dos Músicos to listen to and learn from one of the most revered guitarists playing there in the early 1960s, Chiquito Braga. By age 13, Toninho had begun composing.
In Os sonhos não envelhecem, Márcio Borges – Milton Nascimento’s first partner – credits Toninho with getting him accepted to his first MPB festival. In 1967, Márcio submitted a number of songs written with Milton for Globo’s Festival Internacional da Canção. He was frustrated and jealous when he found out that none of these songs had qualified, though three of Milton’s other songs had made the cut: “Morro Velho,” “Travessia” with Fernando Brant, and “Maria, Minha Fé.” But shortly after Márcio received this disappointing news, the young Toninho brought him a song and asked for lyrics. Márcio wrote hurriedly, eager for another chance to qualify for the festival; the song became “Nem é Carnaval,” and passed.*
“Nem é Carnaval” was cut in the first round of the festival; nonetheless, it provided Márcio with a convenient opportunity to introduce Fernando Brant to Toninho. In preparation for the festival, Márcio and Toninho had to have photos taken to send to the organizers, and so did Fernando Brant. Márcio worked it out so that all of them had their pictures taken together. He introduced the two, and the musicians moved closer to consolidating the original Clube da Esquina.
Toninho achieved international recognition when the first Clube da Esquina album was released, in 1972. By 1977 he was placed among the top ten guitarists in the world by the British journal Melody Maker. He continued working with Milton and other musicians from Clube da Esquina throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s. He moved to New York City in 1990, released a number of albums in the United States and Japan, and returned to Brazil in 1999. These days, he continues to play; manages a record label — Minas Records; and is working on publishing the Livrão da Música Brasileira, a compilation of over 700 scores inspired by the American Real Book.
Lyrics in Portuguese
Sabe, eu não faço fé nessa minha loucura
E digo eu não gosto de quem me arruína em pedaços
E Deus é quem sabe de ti
E eu não mereço um beijo partido
Hoje não passa de um dia perdido no tempo
E fico longe de tudo o que sei
Não se fala mais nisso
Eu sei, eu serei pra você o que não me importa saber
Hoje não passo de um vaso quebrado no peito
E grito olha o beijo partido
Onde estará a rainha
Que a lucidez escondeu, escondeu …
Main sources for this post: A Canção no Tempo: 85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras, vol. 2, by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello; Os sonhos não envelhecem: Historias do Clube da Esquina, by Márcio Borges; and the website, Museu do Clube da Esquina
*In Os sonhos não envelhecem, Márcio says the song they wrote together in 1967 was “Correntes,” but that was actually their submission to the 1969 festival.